Ethical Jewellery on the Rise


There has been much hype about ethical fashion over the last few years. The trending and ever growing popularity in sustainable living and how you spend your hard working $$ is increasing at a healthy rate!  

The rise of doing good has also produced a slew of environmental and socially conscious fashion innovators and designers taking on the world saving mission to create beautiful, on trend and ethical fashion to suit every wardrobe.

The buzz words; locally made, organic cotton, hemp, linen, slow fashion, vegan, recycled textiles and even micro fibres from polyesters washing in the ocean, have been slurring around in the media, blogs and highlighted by well known influencers on social media. 

However when we think about ethical fashion or see ‘The Top 5 Ethical Brands’ posts each season in the glossy mags, this rarely considers the huge array of ethical accessories - sunglasses, handbags, scarves and jewellery on offer. 

Like fashion, jewellery is trend-led with much focus on the status of the stone or metal. There is often a silver lining covering up the unfortunate reality of how jewellery is produced. Understanding the unethical practises, from human and enviromental exploitation to conflict funded mining of diamonds and gold, sweatshop and child labour to pollution from irresponsible mining practises, consumers are asking questions and demanding change. 

The term ‘ethical’ in jewellery focusses it’s important on three major categories, the treatment of workers, the effect it has on local communities and the environmental impact of mines.

Traceability - Being able to trace where the precious metal comes from or the gemstone clusters originates is an important first step in ethical jewellery. By tracing back to the mines, you can ensure all raw materials used are produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way, are fair trade and conflict-free. 

Sustainable - The materials used must not only come from sustainable production sources, but also from fairly paid labour. Knowing your piece of jewellery has no negative impact to the people making it, or the environment it is produced in an important consideration. 

Empowering local communities - Gold mining accounts for serious social and environmental impacts; harsh working conditions, corruption, exploitation, child labour, poverty, environmental deflation and conflict. This has resulted in the displacement of the local communities surrounding gold-rich mining regions.  The industry making an effort to clean up its act by certifying gold that meets international sustainability standards and by empowering the local communities and each individual who has worked in these situations to become self empowered and have control over their future.

Recycled materials - Extracting diamonds, gold, gemstones and other metals can cause significant damage to the earth and result in water pollution, greenhouse gas emission, and soil erosion. 20 tones of waste is produced for every ounce of gold and an array of toxic chemical (cyanide, arsenic) are used in mining gold and other materials which is deadly for the workers. Opt for recycled metals, repurposed diamonds or vintage upcycled stones.  

Conflict Free - “Conflict diamonds” or “blood diamonds” refer to diamonds mined in a war zone where the sale proceeds to fund weapons. Thankfully, measures have been put into place to stop the flow of conflict diamonds and now estimate to account for less than 1% of the world diamond production. Ethical alternatives now include conflict-free or synthetic man made diamonds. 

Fair Trade and Fair Mined - By auditing the suppliers at the bottom of the supply chain (farmers and miners) through Fair Trade, brands are able to take working conditions, fair wages, chemical handling, women’s rights and child labour into account and support the development of thriving mining and worker communities.

Jewellery, like the fashion industry has so many serious social and environmental impacts, but there are so many beautiful and ethical alternatives that you do not have to compromise style, trend or material. Check out one of our fave brands - Bidiliia and their ethical range here -

Nisha AbeyComment